Silicon Nanowires for Intracellular Optical Interrogation with Subcellular Resolution

Menahem Y. Rotenberg*, Benayahu Elbaz, Vishnu Nair, Erik N. Schaumann, Naomi Yamamoto, Nivedina Sarma, Laura Matino, Francesca Santoro, Bozhi Tian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Current techniques for intracellular electrical interrogation are limited by substrate-bound devices, technically demanding methods, or insufficient spatial resolution. In this work, we use freestanding silicon nanowires to achieve photoelectric stimulation in myofibroblasts with subcellular resolution. We demonstrate that myofibroblasts spontaneously internalize silicon nanowires and subsequently remain viable and capable of mitosis. We then show that stimulation of silicon nanowires at separate intracellular locations results in local calcium fluxes in subcellular regions. Moreover, nanowire-myofibroblast hybrids electrically couple with cardiomyocytes in coculture, and photostimulation of the nanowires increases the spontaneous activation rate in coupled cardiomyocytes. Finally, we demonstrate that this methodology can be extended to the interrogation of signaling in neuron-glia interactions using nanowire-containing oligodendrocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1232
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 12 2020


  • Silicon nanowires
  • biological modulation
  • intracellular
  • myofibroblasts
  • oligodendrocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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